As mentioned last week, during Lent there is a special prayer at the end of Holy Mass, the Oratio Super Populum, or Prayer Over the People. In this time of greater spiritual combat Father begs an additional blessing over you. In the Novus Ordo, these prayers are also on Sundays. Here is the Oratio for the Third Sunday of Lent:
Rege, Domine, quaesumus, tuorum corda fidelium, et servis tuis hanc gratiam largire propitius, ut in tui et proximi dilectione manentes plenitudinem mandatorum tuorum adimpleant.
I think this is a new composition for the 2002 Missale Romanum.
Current ICEL translation: “Lord, rule over the hearts of your faithful, and bountifully grant to your servants that, persevering in love for you and their neighbour, they may fully obey your commandments.”
Notice the use of adimpleo, “to fulfil”. “Fulfilment” in various senses – to complete and to be satisfied by being filled – seems a major point for Holy Mother Church this week, given the final positions of those “filling” verbs in the two final prayers of Mass this Sunday (cf the Post Communion).
The two final prayers of Mass (this and the Post Communion – you can do some homework) remind me of St Augustine of Hippo’s sermon on the anniversary of his ordination. He tells his flock that his duties as their bishop are like a sárcina, the Roman legionary’s heavy backpack. He explains that his and their vocations are intertwined. He says: “This burden (sárcina) of mine, about which I am speaking, what other is it than you yourselves? Pray for strength for me, as I pray that you not be heavy! … In the times when I am frightened that I am for you, I am then consoled that I am with you. Vobis enim sum episcopus, vobiscum sum Christianus … I am a bishop for you, I am a Christian with you.”
Augustine says in another homily, when he is taking his flock to task, “Nolo salus esse sine vobis … I do not want to be saved without you”. Behold the priestly heart.
Do you pray for your priests? We are frail human beings like yourselves. Yes, we have the graces of the sacrament of orders in us – when we are in the state of grace. But we, too, can be burdened, discouraged and weary. Our vocations, yours and ours, are intertwined in this vale of tears.
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